January 6, 2012

Writer Wrangler: Marissa Farrar

Writing Domestic Abuse
Marissa Farrar

When I first sat down to write Alone, I knew I wanted to write a vampire romance, but I didn’t want to write the usual ‘female human gets swept away by handsome, powerful vampire’. I wanted my novel to be about the journey of the female character, going from a place of emotional weakness to one of strength.

I can’t remember the exact moment I decided Serenity was an abused woman. I had her in my head before anything else; a woman who is cowed, broken and damaged. That she was in a violent relationship was just part of who she was rather than something I’d considered integral to the storyline.
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I’ve taken some stick for the violence in the book but I don’t apologise for it. The thought that I should tamper down the reality of an abused woman’s situation didn’t even occur to me until long after the book was published and I had a couple of complaints about readers finding the violence difficult to read. When I hear things like that, I simply think ‘great’. If someone found the violence uncomfortable, it means I did my job right. Domestic abuse should make people feel uncomfortable.

 Recently I was asked to write a piece for a campaign against domestic abuse. I wrote the piece in first person narrative from Serenity’s point for view and I heard from so many different victims of domestic abuse, telling me how well I captured the emotions of being in that situation, it honestly brought tears to my eyes. Some of the stories of those women were heart-breaking, and I’m so happy I was able to write something that got people thinking and touched others on an emotional level.

One thing I knew I never wanted was for Serenity to be ‘saved’ by another person. While she draws strength from meeting Sebastian (the vampire) every action she takes to remove herself from her situation, she does on her own. Serenity’s growth as a character for me is the most important part of the book. 

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At the same time, getting the balance right with Serenity was probably the hardest part about writing the story. I wanted the reader to empathise with her, not dislike or despise her for being too weak to simply walk away from her marriage. I wanted people to understand how it feels to be in that situation—the sense that the victim somehow feels they deserve such horrific treatment, the fear about what might happen if they did leave, and of course the hope that their partner will change.

I hope people who read Alone will be left feeling Serenity’s story is redemptive and empowering. If the reader also casts their minds to the hundreds of thousands of people who are trapped in violent relationships, then my novel means more than simply a piece of fiction. It’s made people think as well.

Book two in the ‘Serenity’ series, Buried, is also now available to buy. Book three, Captured, is scheduled for a March 2012 release.

Thank you Marissa for guesting.

Marissa Farrar has several horror and paranormal books and short stories published and was born in Devon, England. She loves to travel and have lived in Spain and Australia for some time. She's back in Devon, England with her husband, two kids, a crazy Spanish rescue dog and four hens. Yup! HENS!

She also supports Refuge, a charity for women and children against domestic violence. Part of Alone's December sales was donated to this worthy cause.
For those of you who are curious about Marissa and her work, check out her Amazon author page or visit her blog. She's also on Twitter @marissafarrar and Facebook.


  1. Wow, what an incredible guest post. Very beautiful and empowering. You hit some major points here. I like that even though she finds someone that is better for her, she isn't "saved" by him. She finds herself on her own. I love finding characters that grow on their own. She may get her strength from Sebastian, but the journey is her own. Everyone knows I have a knack for reading books with badass chicks with swords, but this is a different kind of tough that I think a lot of people can relate to, vampires or not. Amazing guest postm thank you so much for sharing this :)

  2. Thanks so much for your amazing comment, Diana! I always wanted Serenity to be a different kind of character than normally found in fantasy novels. I'm so happy her story has touched so many people!


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